Yoga in Oklahoma
This week my partner Dave and I have been visiting his parents in Stillwater, Oklahoma (home of Oklahoma State University). I went online to search for yoga in Stillwater and found the website of a teacher named Carol Bender ( www.benderyoga.com). I giggled and thought "Bender. What a great name for a yoga teacher!" Then, I decided I had to try her classes.
Since San Francisco is sort of a mecca for yoga in America, I've been spoiled by our choice of wonderful studios and brilliant teachers of every flavor of yoga. So I was curious to see what one could find in a small town like Stillwater, Oklahoma. There's not a whole lot to do around here. So beside raiding Dave's parents' very well-stocked fridge, and helping with small tasks in his dad's beautiful organic vegetable garden, "Bender Yoga" was to be my big adventure for the week.
To my pleasant surprise Carol's classes were absolutely superb! She has a wonderful presence and energy about her. The small class size (5 to 7 people) created an intimate environment and opportunity for individual guidance. I attended two of her classes (at two different locations) and loved both of them. It appears that her classes were attended by a small loyal group of regulars. Carol welcomed this out-of-town visitor with warm open arms, and I had the most wonderful practice. Then the big shocker was the low-low price—the Tuesday class was $5 and the Wednesday class, regularly $7, was free for first-timers!
Afterward, I reflected on what a labor of pure love it is that Carol teaches these phenomenal yoga classes for such tiny fees. In San Francisco, her classes would be $12-15 or more each and probably attended by many more students. Clearly Carol does not teach for the money. (As it turns out, thanks to my google-stalking skills, she is a professor and research scientist at OSU with a rather impressive Curriculum Vitae.) Money aside, it occurs to me how much easier it is to maintain a high level of yoga practice in a place like SF with its popularity and abundant choices of studios, workshops, conferences, teacher-training programs, etc. Yoga is clearly thriving in San Francisco, but not nearly the same in Oklahoma. To me, Carol is a hero for bringing such quality yoga instruction so lovingly to this small town.
Carol, if you're reading this blog, thank you for having me in your wonderful classes and thank you even more for bringing the joy of yoga and meditation practice to your community! You're a gem!